John Kessler

All Blues Host

John has worked as a professional bassist for 20 years, including a 15 year stint as Musical Director of the Mountain Stage radio program. John has been at KPLU since 1999 where he hosts “All Blues”, is producer of the BirdNote radio program, and co-hosts “Record Bin Roulette”. John is also the recording engineer for KPLU “In-Studio Performances”. Not surprisingly, John's main musical interests are jazz and blues, and he is still performing around Seattle.

His most memorable and satisfying KPLU radio moment was getting an email from Jimmy Lane, a bluesman and the son of blues legend Jimmy Rogers, who said something like “You’re playing the good stuff, keep it up!”

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu April 19, 2012

Aging ... time marches on in song

Time Marches On

Aging is a high price to pay for maturity. But, getting old seems to be the only way to live a long time. One advantage of being old … you’ve already learned everything the hard way.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu April 12, 2012

What's Up, Doc? Songs to celebrate that exam

"Calling Dr. Howard! Dr. Fine! Dr. Howard!"

This week we play Doctor, examining those practitioners of psychiatry, proctology and podiatry with our chilly stethoscopes. Now bend over a bit, this may feel a little uncomfortable…

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu April 5, 2012

Hot hits from the Bible

Pop stars and Nuns. They don’t usually go together, with some notable exceptions.

But in 1973, Sister Janet Mead, a Roman Catholic nun from Australia had an international smash hit on her hands with her single “The Lord’s Prayer."

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu March 29, 2012

A few songs about real people

The Actual Girl From Ipanema!

Art imitates life in this week’s episode, some great (and not-so-great) songs have been inspired by actual factual folks.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu March 22, 2012

Pucker up and hit those high notes, time for The Whistler

Beware The Whistler!

I am the Whistler, and I know many things, for I walk by night. I know many strange tales, hidden in the hearts of men and women who have stepped into the shadows. Yes... I know the nameless terrors of which they dare not speak ... opening to the 1940’s radio drama The Whistler.

Whistling has been around as long as we’ve had lips, and that puckering propensity has had a vital role in many iconic movies and songs.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu March 15, 2012

Our favorite solar-powered pop music

Painful Solar Flares
thebadastronomer Flickr

At this time of year, most of us in the northern hemisphere are pretty darn glad to be seeing more sunshine. But our old Sun has been having some flare-ups lately, sending massive bursts of energy towards Earth, threatening communications and electrical grids. So before the power goes out, here are some of our favorite solar songs.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu March 8, 2012

Around the world in 80 songs

I see London, I see France...
Trent Strohm Flickr

Despite the emergence or rock and roll, Lawrence Welk had a #1 pop single “Calcutta” in 1961. At age 57, he was the oldest  performer to achieve that milestone. (3 years later Louis Armstrong, at 62 topped the charts with “Hello Dolly”.) “Calcutta” the song doesn’t seem to have anything remotely to do with Calcutta the city, in fact the song was originally called “Tivoli Melody”.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Rockstar dreams

Early humans thought dreams were messages from the Gods, but to Freud it was unconscious wish-fulfillment. It wasn’t until 1952 that REM sleep was discovered, and the fact that our brains are quite active while we sleep.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu February 23, 2012

Musical inspiration from religion

Religion and secular music don’t often cross paths, but many a pop singer and song has a religious inspiration … George Harrison raised some eyebrows with his 1967 composition “Within You Without You”, with lyrics that reflected the teachings of Hinduism.

From the Buddhist message of The Lion King’s “Circle of Life” to the uplifting spiritual “Oh Happy Day, we have tolerated and embraced religious meaning in our pop tunes.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu February 16, 2012

Pop songs from real life

Don McLean's American Pie

From “The Star Spangled Banner” to “Walk on the Wild Side”, popular music has re-told real-life events, stuff that actually happened.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu February 9, 2012

Here's some lascivious love songs for V-Day

You'll put an eye out with that thing!
--(@rwen flickr

Love songs are the heart, soul and spleen of the music business. And musicians, being rebels and upstarts, have always been pushing the boundaries of taste and decency, leading to some surprising outcomes…

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu February 2, 2012

Sound effects in pop music explored

The 1812 Overture calls for cannon

The Beatles were famous for using sound effects they found in the Abbey Road library, and many other artists used sound to great effect. (haha)  Babby Darin’s “Splish Splash” had a gurgling bath in the track, and The Ronettes “Walking in the Rain” was Grammy-nominated for use of thunder sound effects.

Maybe the first use of sound effects in music was in Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, which calls for live cannons.

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Blues Time Machine
1:00 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

'Rock Island Line' evolved from the rhythm of hard labor

library of congess

Blues evolved from many different sources including spirituals, work songs, and chants. “Rock Island Line” began as a work song, first recorded in 1934 by prisoners at Cummins Farm in Arkansas. The rhythm of physical labor is integral to songs like these.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu January 26, 2012

Singing about 'quiet desperation'

jerebu Flickr

Maybe sometimes the desperation isn’t so quiet, but we begin with a premise by Thoreau, and head straight downhill from there.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu January 19, 2012

Singing about 'the slammer'

Johnny Cash outside Folsom Prison
WBUR Flickr

The Hoosegow, the Big House, The Clink, Up The River, The Pen. We’ve never been ourselves, but we did time listening to scores of songs about "the slammer."

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